(Special report “Playgrounds and Urban Landscape”)
The bridge between sports facilities and the urban landscape passes through street art which, developed horizontally rather than vertically on city walls, colours those outdoor basketball courts which, recalling the mythical urban spaces of New York, we call playgrounds.
(Special report “Playgrounds and Urban Landscape”)
Milan, Viale Lazio playground. Artist Davide Barco (photo provided by Foot Locker).
Go to the other articles in the Playground and Urban Landscape Special:
- Tactical Urbanism: Milan from open squares to open streets
- Isernia, the Urban Park of the railway station
- MuggiĂ˛ (Monza), the Joy and Kindness Garden
In the beginning there was Project Backboard
Project Backboard was born in 2014 when Daniel Peterson, a former Memphis Grizzlies basketball player, noticed the state of disrepair of several basketball courts around the city. To revitalize these spaces, Peterson began renovating the courts with minor improvements, filling in cracks or repainting the baselines needed for a regular game.
As Peterson began restoring fields throughout Memphis, his interest broadened to finding ways to generate excitement in public parks in surrounding neighborhoods. After learning that local artist Anthony Lee was already designing an installation for a nearby field, he collaborated with the artist to paint the field’s grey asphalt with blue and pink designs. The collaboration marked the beginning of Project Backboard, also inspiring Peterson’s work with local artists who were already engaged within the community.
Foreign initiatives such as Project Backboard have led the way, revitalising neglected and dilapidated sports areas and giving them a new identity. These new urban landmarks are attracting more and more curious people, and sportsmen come not only to practice their sport but also to experience the unique artistic beauty of the field: well-known sportswear brands have started to ride the phenomenon by sponsoring the interventions.
In subsequent years, other initiatives developed in the USA, also in collaboration with the NBA, to customise playing fields in public parks in large cities.
From here, it was easy to spread to all corners of the world, and of course to Europe.
The phenomenon in Italy
After a few sporadic initiatives, playgrounds designed by artists and/or sponsored by fashon style brands are multiplying in Italy too.
In addition to the genius of the artists, it should be remembered that the aesthetics of coloured playgrounds owe a great deal to the materials used, given the heavy wear and tear to be expected on the surfaces. To ensure the durability of the colours over time, a suitably formulated acrylic resin-based coloured coating should be applied, to be completed with a specific transparent protective top coat.
Below is an overview of some of the most interesting projects carried out in Italy in recent months.
Bergamo and province: StreetArtBall Project
StreetArtBall Project is an idea born in Bergamo, one of the provinces most affected by the Covid-19, to redevelop five playgrounds with some of the best Italian street artists; each of the graphic works on the surface of the fields has a precise meaning.
The project has seen the collaboration between different local realities that move between the sporting and the artistic, social or cultural: HG80, Pilo Agency / King Of the Pilo, Pianura Urbana, Nuvole in Viaggio. A crowfunding campaign raised over 5,000 euros to realize the works, a part of which went to charity to local associations.
The playgrounds are located at Pilo in Bergamo (author Paolo Baraldi, aka Il Baro), Gorle (Fabio Petani), Casnigo (Ale Senso), Mapello, Valtrighe (Manu Invisible), and Treviglio, Horizon field (Giulio Vesprini).
In addition to the Bergamo series, the San Luigi oratory in Garbagnate Milanese has been dedicated to Alessio Allegri, a young athlete who died two years ago from an illness while playing; the playground was created by Ale Senso.
Buccinasco (Milano): two playgrounds
The two interventions carried out in Buccinasco are part of the Neighborhood Plan, an urban regeneration project launched by the Municipality. They have been realized one at Robarello park and one in Marsala street, by Gummy Gue, an artistic duo formed by the brothers Marco and Andrea Mangione.
Milan, viale Lazio: like Duomo’s floors
The playground in Viale Lazio is sponsored by Foot Locker Europe, as part of the “Raise the Game” project that involves the renovation of playgrounds in various European cities..
The work was created by the artist Davide Barco, specialized in sports iconography, who was inspired by the marble floors of the central nave of the Duomo.
Rome, Scalo San Lorenzo
On the occasion of the 3×3 Red Bull Half Court basketball tournament, the Scalo San Lorenzo playground was painted by Piskv (Francesco Persichella), who inserted the plan of the Colosseum above the blow-up of a basketball player. The materials used are Mapecoat TNS Race Track and Mapecoat TNS Protection by Mapei.
Bologna, Graziella Fava gardens
The city of Bologna has recently redeveloped several playgrounds. The one in the Fava Gardens has been refurbished as part of the Red Bull Half Court with the support of the “Regaz dei Fava“, a community of about 80 young people from different neighborhoods; the design was created by Truly Design Crew, an unconventional visual communication studio directed by three urban artists active in the graffiti scene since 1996: Mauro149, Rems 182 and Ninja1. The image reproduces some of the city’s monuments. Mapei materials.
Playgrounds we already talked about
vOur editorial staff has already reported on some of the latest interventions carried out in Italy:
Milan, Mahmood at Gratosoglio
The work was carried out by Waterproofing with the laying of Wasport TA synthetic turf (go to news)
Milan, We Playground Together
It was one of the first fields realized, in 2019, as part of the project “We playground together”, wanted by Danilo Gallinari with the patronage of the City of Milan and the support of Mapei, Adidas, Garage Italia, Sisal and Laureus Foundation. The work, under the direction of architect Giuseppe De Martino, was realized by Waterproofing with Mapei products; the concept is by Garage Italia (go to the news).
Milan, Playground Stelvio: sport and community
That of the gardens of Viale Stelvio is instead the last one in order of time, inaugurated last September 12, requalified within the project “Care and adopt the public green”, conceived by the Municipality of Milan to heal the green areas of the city (go to the news).